GREY, Sir John (d.1611), of Pirgo, Essex and Bradgate, Leics.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

1st s. of Sir Henry Grey of Pirgo by his w. Anne. m. Elizabeth, da. of Edward Neville I, 2s. Kntd. 1596.1

Offices Held

J.p. Leics. by 1599, q. by 1601; gent. pens. by 1601; gent. of privy chamber 1603; keeper of mansion house and park of Havering, Essex 1603.2


Like his younger brother Henry, who was killed in the Netherlands, Grey spent his youth soldiering, serving with Leicester in the Netherlands, and with the 2nd Earl of Essex at the taking of Cadiz, where he was knighted. In 1602 he was one of those who went privately to the Low Countries to see a summer’s fighting. His admissions to Lincoln’s Inn in 1589 and Gray’s Inn in 1593 were doubtless honorary. In 1599 as part of his family’s effort to re-establish themselves in Leicestershire in the face of opposition from the Hastings (see Grey, Sir Henry), Grey seems to have taken on the Leicester municipal authorities, writing to the mayor, who had refused to give up a prisoner, ‘if you be able to cross me in one thing, I can requite your town with twenty ... as I am a gentleman I will be revenged one way or another’. Grey’s name was added to the subsidy commission in 1600 and, despite the town’s efforts to remove him, his ‘great friends’ prevailed.3

Despite his earlier associations with the Earl of Essex, Grey played no part in the rising of 1601, and was entrusted with the custody of a number of prisoners, including the brothers of the 5th Earl of Rutland, whom he treated with judicious kindness, so that when later in the year he considered standing for Leicestershire in opposition to the Hastings interest, his hope lay in the tenants of the Earl. Still, he was unsuccessful, and had to be content with a seat for Grampound, possibly procured for him by Robert Cecil. In Parliament he was one of those who complained of a breach of privilege on 21 Nov.: one Robert Atkins had sued a subpoena out of Chancery against him, and (Sir) Edward Hoby felt that the offender should receive ‘exemplary punishment’. Later in the session Grey served on a committee considering his mother-in-law’s jointure (3 Dec.). He was also appointed to the monopolies committee (8 Dec.) and to a committee to examine the case of Mr. Belgrave (17 Dec.).4

By 1601 a courtier, Grey was one of those who rode north on Elizabeth’s death. Probably he accompanied James to London and was soon after appointed to his privy chamber. As the heir apparent to a peerage and a member of the ‘gay company’ which included Sir John Harington, Sir Robert Sidney, Sir Henry Carey, and the Earls of Rutland, Bedford and Pembroke, references to his activities in serious matters during the reign are few.5

Grey died v.p. of smallpox and was buried 7 Oct. 1611 in the chapel of Broughton Astley church. His widow later married Edward Bingley of the Exchequer.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: S. M. Thorpe


  • 1. Nichols, Leics. iii. 674, 683.
  • 2. Leicester Recs. iii. 385; LC2/4/4/; PRO cal. pat. rolls 1-5 Jas. I, i(19), p. 36; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 18.
  • 3. R. C. Strong and J. A. Van Dorsten, Leicester’s Triumph, 118; Lansd. 86, f. 109; CSP Dom. 1595-7, p. 263; 1601-3, p. 201; Nichols, iii. 683; Leicester Recs. iii. 339, 385, 393, 412-15.
  • 4. HMC Rutland, i. 367, 380; D’Ewes, 647, 665, 673, 688.
  • 5. Leicester Recs. iv. 10, 93; HMC 7th Rep. 526a; PRO cal. pat. rolls 37-43 Eliz. 42(11), p. 25; 1-5 Jas. I, 4(2), p. 4; 7-8 Jas. I, 7(39); Lansd. 90, f. 9; Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, i. 179, 227; HMC Hatfield, xvii. 594.
  • 6. Chamberlain Letters, i. 314; Nichols, iii. 675.